Reuben may be heading to the shire for Christmas

Ruben recovering earlier this year before being released into the wild. Photo by Sue Gay, well-known Appin koala activist:

Ruben recovering earlier this year before being released into the wild. Photo by Sue Gay, well-known Appin koala activist:

Meet Ruben the koala who may be heading to the shire in time for Christmas.

Ruben was taken into WIRES care after being found sitting close to the Appin Road, which is a well known koala roadkill hotspot.

He had cataracts on his eyes, and some of his medical care over a 12 month period involved lenses sent from Germany.

Eventually the eye disease resolved itself and Ruben became healthy enough to be released safely into a nearby National Park.

He has been tagged by the Science for Wildlife organisation and has been shown that he lives dangerously.

He has crossed Appin Road twice since, then sat in a tree beside the road.

This prompted a 24-hour vigil, when he was watched over by WIRES carers in shifts.

He then moved far more deeply into bushland between Appin Road and the upper Georges River.

He now appears more safely located in a spot remote from the road. If he headed east rather than west, he would be on his way to the Sutherland Shire and the coast.

Georges River Environmental Alliance secretary Sharyn Cullis said that this year local residents have reported frequent koala sightings in local spots like Kirrawee, Lucas Heights, Sandy Point and Woronora Heights.

"These are suburbs at the bushland -suburban interface, and often present threats like roadkill and dog attack," Ms Cullis said.

"However the frequency of sightings does suggest potentially a growing koala presence.

"Koala tracking projects in the past have indicated that the koalas of southern Sydney are genetically related to the south-west Sydney population, which was re-discovered in Wedderburn in 1986.

"Some of the early radio tracking done by Professor Rob Close, then at the University of Western Sydney, noted how these koalas moved over large distances. That included the journey of a female who wandered all the way from Wedderburn eastwards across the Holsworthy MTA, before turning up in the Sutherland Shire.

"So Koalas are on the move from south at Appin all the way to Glenfield before striking eastwards on the way towards the Sutherland Shire.

"The bushland corridors of the Georges and Woronora and the tributary creeklines are their pathways.

"The Georges River National Park, on the southern side the Woronora Dam catchment, and Heathcote National park, as well as the Royal National Park maybe providing large areas of refuge.

"A coalition of local groups is forming including local resident groups and progress associations, the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, the Georges River Environmental Alliance and the National Parks Association- Southern Sydney branch, to lobby government and council to provide safe passage under and over dangerous roads, like Heathcote Road and the Princes Highway.

"Everyone can play a part," Ms Cullis said.

"Report injured koalas to WIRES urgently, and if you sight a safe koala, report it to the staff at your nearest National Park, or download a new App. called 'I Spy Koala' and report it, so that it can go onto official records.

Science for Wildlife released a koala, found in a backyard in Kirrawee into the Royal National Park in August.

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